Many people assume that banking systems cross-verify all the details of an EFT transaction - name of account, branch name or number, and account number, and that only if all are correct, is the transfer successful.
But that’s not the case. According to consumer journalist Wendy Knowler, all it takes for a transfer to happen is for the number in the account field to be a valid one with the selected bank.
Knowler says those who mistakenly “gift” a stranger when doing an EFT are in for a tough battle because the bank doesn’t have the right to whip the money out of the wrong recipient’s account without their permission.
The banks do not get involved because they do not have the right to whip the money out of the wrong recipients account without their permission.— Wendy Knowler, Correspondent - Consumer Talk
What happens is the bank will then usually get in touch with the person that was not meant to get the money and say this was a mistake, will you please repay the money.— Wendy Knowler, Correspondent - Consumer Talk
Knowler says legal action can be taken in some instances if the money is not paid back. She says this can take anything from six months to two years, and the costs can run into thousands of rands.
She adds that it is usually the cases involving hundreds of thousands of rand that land up in court.
It is often a company that made the mistake and they are not willing to just write off the money, they want it back.— Wendy Knowler, Correspondent - Consumer Talk
The best and most practical advice for consumers is be careful when you're transferring funds electronically, says Knowler.
Click on the link below to hear the full conversation...